The Bureau of Quiet Obfuscation    Monday, November 12, 2018













How confusing it seems are his stark and simple words to those who speak loudest and longest of him.

Or, perhaps it is just his name they want and not the way he offered to them.















if Jesus rose today

trying to find
something
new or interesting to say
about this dull and time-worn
Sunday morning

new -

well, I'm here at the coffeehouse
where I am usually not on Sunday morning

interesting -

it's cool but not cold,
the outside is dim and drizzly,
the bicycle gang has come and gone
and the rest of the everybody here is the same
as everyday but for the big, red-faced bald guy by the window -

this may be one of those days when poems
crawl into a corner and die
never to rise again

such is the evidence
so far

irrefutable evidence
I might add

as my poem for the day
lies huddled in the corner by the door,
sobbing
with dejected little gasps
of futility

the poet, too,
thinking

that Jesus rose today
he'd be back in his grave
before the coffee was through
percolating -
that's the kind of day this
is...

poor baby









A short post of short poems.

Deep in a early winter, post-election funk, as good as it gets.







And what more appropriate with short poems in a short post than haiku from the masters. These haiku from Classic Haiku, published by Shelter Harbor Press in 2016. A beautiful hardbound book with slick pages and wonderful black and white illustrations.

I should make clear that my comments about the poets are informed by the editor of the book, Tom Lowenstein, including in places direct quotes which I acknowledge here, usually so intertwined with my own words that differentiation is near impossible.









Me
if Jesus rose today

Me
first cold light
morning wake-up
dark box of bright

Matsuo Basho
Seven haiku

Me
but then she is my dog

Yosa Buson
Seven haiku

Me 
gulf morning

Kobayoshi Issa
Seven haiku

Me
intrigues of the morning

Masaoka Shiki
Seven haiku

Me
soup's up

Me
Five haiku

Me
Rommel's revenge"

Six later haiku masters

Me
home fires
dusk
cricket

Me
has any American soldier ever been so disrespected as this?
















I start with the most recent poems first, these short pieces from my recent visit to New Mexico.
















first cold light

the leaves
have turned in Santa Fe
and are falling now,
golden rain
on a golden carpet

bundled people
bustle
past
in the morning's first
cold light

across the street
at the State Land office
workers start their shifts
in costume

Halloween!



morning wake-up

walking
Old Santa Fe Trail
in autumn's first snow

too warm to stick
but
falling,
a thick, white lace curtain

snow on my shoulders
snow in my hair

cold wind on my neck



dark box of bright

the sun rises
brilliant red against
the jagged horizon,
fades to a white inferno
of blinding sun-scream
directly into our eyes
as we begin
to breach
the end-zone
of our long asphalt
ribbon 
east

I thread my way
cautiously
through the small town's
main street,
seeing uncertainly
through squinting eyes
then on to the interstate,
traveling at high speed
in a dark box 
of bright








Beginning the haiku masters with Matsuo Basho, who lived from 1644 to 1694.

His father, a minor samurai, Basho was apprenticed to a young samurai at the early age nine. His new master shared with the boy a taste for literature and together they took instruction in poetry writing. Upon his master's death in 1666, left Basho to attend to his poetic interests. By 1680 he had become a noted poet and had acquired a circle of demanding students. In a search for space and solitude, he retred a modest hut by a river on the outskirts of Edo. An admirer gave him a a plantain (basho) tree which would lend its name to the poet we know now by that name. It was during the next two years of contemplation under his basho tree that the poet's growing interest in Zen Buddhism led him to study meditation with a local Zen priest. It was after the destruction of his hut that Basho began a series of journeys that would continue most of the rest of is life. In each of his series of five travel diaries he expressed the spiritual nature of his travels.




Wind in autumn -
a door slides open
and a sharp cry comes through


````


Darkening sea.
The cry of wild duck
faintly white.


```


Just butterflies
and sunlight
in the whole empty meadow


```


Waves on blue sea,
the smell of sake,
a harvest moon rises.


```


Rainy season,
and the crane's legs
have grown shorter.


```


The beginning of all art,
a rice planting song
in a remote district.


```

Quietly in the night,
a worm in moonlight
burrows through a chestnut


















A little  bit of domestic business from October.














but then she is my dog

Saturday morning
at the coffeehouse,
I brought Bella with me
today, figure she deserves
some alone-time
after several days with her
visiting cousins.
sleeping in her favorite places,
eating her favorite food,
barking furiously at her favorite
cat - like most of us she admires
the concept of family, but generally
prefers the distant relations type,
less in her face and more fondly
remembered...

a lot like me, but then she is
my dog...








Second of the three greatest haiku masters, Yosa Buson (born 1716 and died 1783.).

Credited with saving the haiku after it drifted into near irrelevance after the dead of  Basho, Buson came from a poor family and labored intensely to advance himself and his love of Basho's haikus, he failed in his first attempt to establish himself as a poet and painter and retreated into provincial obscurity for ten years. Working from that obscurity, he rose to become recognized as one of Japan's foremost painters.

Despite his success as a painter, he retained his devotion to Basho and haiku, identifying himself with classical values derived from ancient China.

From my reading, I see Buson much more in the world and time than Basho. Other people seem to be noted and responded to in them than in what I've read of Basho.



Wading through a stream
in summer, carrying my sandals.
How delightful!


```


The bite of my ax.
Sudden revelation,
there is life in this tree!


```



Was that a fox
or a prince in disguise
this hazy spring evening?


```


In the cool of the evening
the  bell's voice
leaves the bell.


```


Young squire
throwing off his robes
in the mist, in the moonlight


```


Deep in the old well
the dark sound of fish
leaping at mosquitoes


```


How fine to see
the pure white fan
of my beloved










Before moving to San Antonio in 1993, we lived for fifteen years in Corpus Christi, Texas, a smallish city of of about a quarter million on Corpus Christi Bay, near the center of the Texas Gulf of Mexico coast and about a 15 minute drive over a long causeway to the north end of Padre Island.

A lovely city. I enjoyed the coastal lifestyle and most of all the people who lived there. I remember how much I enjoyed driving to work through thick morning fog along the bay, listening to all the sounds of life, gulls and cranes calling and jumping fish slapping the water as they fell back on it.

But the humidity was awful and I don't miss a minute of that.



gulf morning

light mist,
soft as a cat's ear whiskers,
slight breeze
from the southeast

the gulf
returns its essence









Last of the three recognized greats of the haiku is Kobayoshi Issa (born 1762, died 1826).

Considered one of the great originals of world poetry, he is without doubt the best loved of Japanese poets. While Basho is austere and exalted and Buson coolly precise, Issa is excitable, impulsive, explosively engaged with the world, and constantly surprising.

Despite the nature he seemed to expose in his poems, Issa' life was almost an unrelieved tragedy. After the death of his mother he was exploited by his stepmother who, when he was a young poet, took from his property rights. As an adult, his first two wives died and lost all of his children as infants and died heartbroken when the family home he had finally are retrieved from his stepmother burned to the ground.

Within all the tragedy, he had his success as a poet, apprenticing himself to a haiku master at the age 14 and, after his master died, beoming a Buddhist priest and spending the next ten years as a homeless, wandering priest, placing himself consciously within the haiku tradition of Basho, showing ordinary, down-to-earth subject matter could be converted into great poetry.





The cat sleeps. It gets up.
It gives a great yawn.
And off it goes to make love!


```


Little snail,
slowly, slowly,
climbs Mount Fuji.


```


Crawling across this high
rope-bridge, I hear from below
a cuckoo calling.


```


Those distant mountains
reflected in the
eye-jewels of the dragonfly.


```


How beautiful to see
the Milky Way through
a hole in the window


```


The mushroom is
deadly. And, of course,
it's also very pretty.


```


A sparrow is flying
in and out of
the jail house














I think I was probably about 13 years old the first time I walked the streets of San Antonio on my own. That was a long time ago, but I remember how much I loved the mysteries of the cities, and its bridges and how on a early foggy morning, the river seemed to whisper as it flowed beneath.












intrigues of the morning

the day
clear and bright
in the heights where I live,
buy my view of downtown
completely obscured by thick
gray and white clouds, the entire
valley basin lost to sight, all of
downtown's tallest buildings covered,
including the Tower of the Americas,
even its height unable to breach
the surface of the clouds' top level...

I imagine a snake of dense clouds
curling along the river, the mysteries
of all the old bridges consumed by
intrigues of the gray morning...









The fourth and last poet in the book is Masaoka Shiki. The most recent and most modern of the four poets, Shiki was born n 1867, the year the feudalistic era ended and the beginning of a modernizing period. Though not among the recognized three masters, he was a worthy successor, confident enough of his own powers as to shock the public by criticizing a large portion of the great Basho's work.

His father was a failed samurai and his grandfather a strict Confucian who influenced him in his avoidance of western influence. He taught himself the various forms of Japanese poetry as part of his study of the haiku. In addition to his own work he also worked as an editor and publisher.

In frail health, he died in 1902 at the relatively young age of 35.




Sunshine.
Through my mosquito net
I see a white sail passing


```


Wheat harvest in autumn.
Boys walloping a snake
on a country road.


```


After I'm dead, tell people
I was a persimmon eater
who loved haiku.


```


The lovely circle of the moon.
Countless stars
in a dark green sky



```


How cool it has become!
I've completely forgotten
that I had planned to steal some melons.


```


Again waiting for you at night.
And the cold wind
turns to rain.


```


A moonlit night,
and a flock of wild geese
fly low across the railway line.















We had some stormy days in October, clouds hanging over the city like a bad dream.














soup's up


in

the first new morning
of a new day rising,
the sky looks like a soup
of black and white clouds
set soon to boiling

a flock of black birds flying
beneath the clouds,
fresh-ground pepper to flavor
the broth...











After four haiku masters, what could I do but jump into the ego pit with several of my own.

These may or may not be authentic haiku - I was never good about counting syllables - but they were all published in 2004 by the on-line journal, Liquid Muse.

They are at least in the spirit of haiku.











afterglow

cloudless sky
after summer rain
air neon bright


high ten

fly high little gull
challenge the limitless sky
surf on wet gulf winds


morning sky

summer morning dew
rivulets on sustained glass
blue through water falls


storm watch

summer clouds glower
trembling leaves in sunlight shimmer
waiting winds whisper


sunbright

tall grass burns brown
in fearsome summer sun
cactus blooms bask














A coffeehouse observational from October.













Rommel's revenge


the big-nosed woman

in orange shorts
moves through the crowd
like one of Rommel's
panzer in overdrive, as in
the sum bitch gonna
drive right over anything
in its way...

the woman gave me
a long, hard look
as she pass my table,
as if thinking, damn, if
I could back this thing up
I'd get your Yank ass
and make lunch meat
of it...

meantime,
where's my damn coffee?














Finally, going to another book of haiku, Haiku Inspirations, published by Chartwell Books in 2013 and also gathered by Tom Lowenstein, here are several other great, but lesser know haiku poets.














By Takarai Kikaku

A young woman
planting seedlings
plants toward her crying baby


```


By Kato Kyotai

Early winter
I teach baby
to hold chopsticks


```


By Mukai Kyorai

Firefly
on my hand
fades sadly


```


By Tan Taigi

Zen meditation.
Blood-gorged
mosquitoes.


```


By Miura Chora

Watching the stars
through the willow branches
makes me feel lonely.


```


By Tan Taigi

Beneath a hazy moon:
downstream, the sound
of a net cast on the river.








                                                                             


I go way-back with these last poems, to 1969-1970.

Having completed my military service mid-year 1969 I went back to university to complete my bachelors degree in San Marcos, Texas, about 40 miles from Austin. Living in a small trailer on the banks of the Blanco River, I also had access through relatives to an isolated cabin on Lake Travis where I spend some time, especially during final exams.

It is where I started writing, getting a couple pieces published for my effort and writing these.









home fires


full moon bright
on black winter sky

wisp of cloud
like chimney smoke
crosses

drawing me home



dusk

the mid-summer lake
heaves and rustles
lie some great animal
shuttering
in the gathering dark

under pins of
white and yellow light
crickets chip
the soft stone of night

smoke and scents
of campfires rise

quiet
falls with the sun



cricket

crick-
et

crick-
et

crick-
et

cricking love songs
to a crotchety moon

po-
et

po-
et

po-
et













Finally, And in addition to poems so old they creak, a Veterans Day poem written this Veterans Day, 2018.











has any American soldier ever been so disrespected as this?

sitting
in this warm Starbucks
on this cold South Texas
Veterans Day,
thinking of our troops
in service to us at this moment,
not in Iraq or Afghanistan
or any other remote and deadly post,
but 300 miles south of me,
on the border,
sitting in cold bivouac
in our own remote desert land,
with no mission and no job
but to serve the political interest
of low political slime who, himself
lacks the fortitude to ever be a solder,
waiting in the cold for the advance
of hungry tired, and equally cold
women and children, designated
threats to us by the same sleazy politician
who exploits them and our own soldiers.

has any American soldier ever been more disrespected
than this?

I don't think so

so, as we remember the dead and maimed
an all else who have served,
remember also this disrespected few,
these honorable men and women,
pawns to the bone-spur soldier
who never served anything
but himself...








My comment button no longer works, so if you would like to comment on this post, email me at allen.itz@GMail.com. I appreciate hearing from readers.


As usual, everything belongs to who made it. You're welcome to use my stuff, just, if you do, give appropriate credit to "Here and Now" and to me



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Poetry

New Days & New Ways


Places and Spaces 






Always to the Light




Goes Around Comes Around




Pushing Clouds Against the Wind




And, for those print-bent, available at Amazon and select coffeehouses in San Antonio


Seven Beats a Second






Fiction


Sonyador - The Dreamer





                                                            


  Peace in Our Time


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